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Tishwash:  Iraq: We are determined to develop the oil sector and implement projects to meet the needs of citizens

 

Today, Saturday, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani, affirmed the government’s determination to develop the oil sector and to complete projects that meet the citizens’ need for fuel .

 

A statement issued by the Prime Ministry – reported by the Iraqi “Al-Ikhbariya” channel – stated that “Al-Sudani announced the start of work on the expansion project (Al-Shinafiyah Refinery) in Al-Diwaniyah Governorate, and this project will increase the production capacity of the refinery from 20,000 barrels per day to 90,000 barrels per day.” By adding a refining unit with a capacity of 70,000 barrels per day .

 

Al-Sudani explained that “this increase will contribute to reducing the import of gasoline and gas oil, and providing surplus quantities of liquid gas and fuel oil production, which have a great economic return. The project will also provide about three thousand job opportunities .”

 

He added, “The cost of this project amounted to 125 million dollars, and it is expected to add hydrogenation and refining units and complementary units to improve the specifications of gasoline, which units will need another allocation of about 675 million dollars   link

 

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Tishwash:  Our national economy, our banks, and reputational risk

 

At a time when the Central Bank and the Iraqi banking sector celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Central Bank of Iraq. This anniversary culminated this year with great achievements at the level of supporting and stimulating the national economy.

 

And revitalizing the economic cycle and securing allocations that exceeded 18 trillion dinars to finance small, medium, housing, investment and renewable energy projects. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and international organizations commended the developments in

 

In the Iraqi economy and expectations of an increase in the growth rate in the gross domestic product this year to 9.3% and the arrival of foreign cash reserves to the limits of 90 billion dollars and 130 tons of gold due to the rational procedures in the applications of monetary policy and safe investments, which had a major role in achieving the above achievements. Unfortunately we noticed

 

Some yellow and non-competent means of communication and media, and personalities with special interests these days, are spreading rumors and fabricated news that are not based on reliable and official sources that harm our banks. And the official body that must be approved is the Central Bank of Iraq exclusively. to the applicable law. And he is concerned with the implementation of international sanctions imposed on some banks that violate internationally approved standards, as happened a few days ago by stopping the dealings of only four banks in foreign currencies with circulars issued by the Central Bank.

 

We must not forget that our country is now going through complex crises and great challenges facing the new government, which requires everyone to cooperate with it in order to achieve its governmental approach to achieving economic reform.

 

And the effects of the global economic and financial crisis and its negative repercussions on our economy in the coming months, as expected.

 

The rumors and fabricated news currently circulating from some social networks and some satellite channels whose orientations are well known and intended to deliberately offend the national economy and national economic institutions that have clear success experiences and work with national Iraqi cadres, and that these parties are driven by special interests and projections. They target our national economy and its institutions that have achieved clear achievements. During the economic and security shocks that Iraq went through after mid-2014 until the present time, it contributed to achieving economic resilience and supported our national economy. Their posts and press and media reports have preoccupied us these days by targeting our banks

 

And involving it in organizational, administrative and technical problems and exploiting leaks to amplify fabricated information that has not been audited and verified. Its aim is to blackmail and cover up the achievements made during the years of crisis. So why target? The reason, as I see it, is that the Central Bank insists that all banks for which it is responsible for supervision and control and related financial institutions do their daily work, internally and externally, to adhere to the instructions, controls and regulations in accordance with its objectives contained in its law, which maintain economic stability in the country.

 

Although I respect the other opinion issued by non-specialists or those who specialize in the economy and monetary policy in particular, but I may disagree with the opinion that tries to harm the reputation of the Iraqi banking sector

 

And the reflection of reputational risks on our international banking dealings. Therefore, I call on the media to look, even for once, at preserving the reputation of the Iraqi economy internally and externally, because it is illogical for us to allow the targeting of our economic institutions that are directly responsible for achieving steadfastness and economic stability. Because directing accusations against our banking sector is an insult to Iraq’s economic reputation internationally without scrutiny and investigation of the leaked information.

 

These authorities know before others, through evidence, facts, and business results, that banks are the first basic link in the economy, and without a sound banking sector, it is not possible to build a sound economic sector. To implement the controls and instructions issued by the Central Bank, to give due diligence to all internal and external banking operations, and to operate openly under the spotlight of the internal and external supervisory authorities, in order to preserve the reputation of our national economy and the achievements of the Central Bank during the past twenty years  link

 

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Tishwash:  The cost of Iraq’s empty promises

 

Sudani’s tenure has not even reached the 30-day mark, but judging by his performance so far, there is little that can be described as success (or even the hint of it). Unless something changes, Iraqis are facing three more years of empty words and politics as usual.

 

Less than a month after being inaugurated as Iraq’s prime minister, Mohammed Shiaa Al Sudani is already reneging on promises he made to secure his governing coalition. The longer these pledges go unmet, the longer Iraq’s destabilising political polarisation will persist.

 

To elect a president and form a cabinet, Sudani’s pro-Iran Shia political bloc, the Coordination Framework, needed support from the country’s Sunnis.

 

Sunnis traded their support for a promise that, once in power, the new prime minister would withdraw pro-Iran Shia militias, known as Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), from Sunni-dominated provinces in the northwest. Al Sudani agreed and also vowed to issue a general pardon that would open the door for the rehabilitation of the mostly-Sunni ISIS fighters.

 

Neither of these promises has been kept. Pro-Iran Shia lawmakers have obstructed measures that would undermine the PMUs without disbanding them. Meanwhile, proposed legislation to reinstate a compulsory military draft, introduced as a way to deplete the pool of unemployed young men for pro-Iran militias to recruit from, has been blocked by pro-Iran Shia politicians.

 

Along similar lines, Interior Minister Abdul Amir Al Shammari, a Shia who ascended the military ranks (and who once ordered government forces to storm the headquarters of the biggest pro-Iran Shia militia, Kataeb Hezbollah) proposed the demilitarisation of the country’s biggest cities and recommended that security be handed over to local and federal police.

 

Ejecting militias from cities would force them to shut down their offices, which are used to dispense favours to the local population, recruit fighters, and disseminate pro-Iran regime propaganda. Again, while Al Sudani feigned support for such a plan before his appointment, execution has fizzled since.

 

While Sudani has given the impression that he plans to empower the Iraqi state, his actions have so far avoided antagonising pro-Iran Shia militias, whose very existence undermine the state itself.

 

As in Lebanon, Iraq’s pro-Iran militias are skilled political manipulators and use politics to secure their fate. These militias manoeuvre to force the election of an executive branch that bestows legitimacy on their existence, without ever questioning their armament or corruption.

 

Sudani has depicted himself as a prime minister busy combatting corruption and building an economy that works for all Iraqis. But the governing model he has employed is doing just the opposite. Akin to the Iranian regime’s approach, Iraq’s government is concerned only with the economy and has ceded nearly everything else, especially security, to pro-Iran militias.

 

After the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, pro-Iran Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah called for partnership with the opposition bloc, with caveats. “You handle reconstruction and we handle resistance,” he said, explaining how Hezbollah would dictate Lebanon’s security and foreign policies. It is a similar calculus in Iraq today.

 

Al Sudani’s effort to combat corruption has so far looked half-hearted and vengeful. The new cabinet did slaughter some sacred cows and arrested senior officers accused of running the “largest oil smuggling network” in the country. But it has yet to go after the political titans known for embezzling public funds and extending protection to corrupt civil servants and military personnel.

 

No one knows what Al Sudani is waiting for, if he is waiting for anything at all. The man got his call only because Iraq’s pro-Iran bloc, whose lawmakers lost the election, replaced the Sadrist bloc after its 73 MPs committed the blunder of resigning.

 

Sudani has tried to depict himself as an independent non-partisan who stands at equal distance from everyone. So far, however, he has not looked as impartial as claimed. On the contrary, he has proven to be extremely biased toward the policies of the Iran regime in Iraq.

 

Sudani has yet to show willingness to defend Iraq’s basic interests. For example, Iraq has been raking in $10 billion a month since the beginning of this year, yet the Iraqi dinar has been losing value. The culprit is Iran, which uses small Iraqi banks and exchange shops to syphon foreign currency into the Iranian treasury.

 

Sudani’s tenure has not even reached the 30-day mark, but judging by his performance so far, there is little that can be described as success (or even the hint of it). Unless something changes, Iraqis are facing three more years of empty words and politics as usual.   Link

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